Friday, May 5, 2017

ChampCamp Fun Facts!

From afar, it could be difficult to figure us out.

As a passerby on the Strand in Manhattan Beach, we don’t blame you for not knowing how to feel about the dozens of kids in brightly-clad rashguards going buck wild on the sand. “Did I just hear sixty children and ten adults yell “OCTOPUS” at the tops of their lungs?!”

While peacefully sippin’ joe in Playa del Rey, it’s completely understandable that you might wonder to yourself, “What the bleep is ChampCamp, and why did their bright green van just meow at me?” as we cruise by you on Culver Boulevard. Yep, the ChampVan meows (long story).
Timmy (a.k.a. "Black Beard") in between takes.

If you hear your friends describing some allegedly epic summer-long party on the sand that they are sending their kids to for the third year in a row, we know that a slurry of uncertainties will inevitably swell up in your mind. “What do they do all day? Is it even safe? What about the gluten??” Please don’t be so hard on yourself-- this is totally normal.

In an effort to shed a bit of light on the above quandaries, as well as answer some of the most common questions that we receive, we’re excited to bring to you ChampCamp Fun Facts! Each of these short little clips features a ChampCamp team member lending insight into some aspect of our Champtastic world. These gems will be comin’ atchya in the near future, so be ready to learn what the word “Panda” means to us, why we build a “House” in the ocean every day, and how we’re able to blow the mind of each and every type of kid that the Universe sends our way.



PS- Check out our first FunFact HERE!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Helicopter Moms Welcome

Listen, we totally get it.
Image Credit: The Huffington Post

Your neighbor’s kids did Champ Camp last year, and by all accounts had a blast. Then in the Fall, you noticed one of your little one’s classmates rocking a mesmerizing tie dyed shirt. When you asked him where he got it, he told you that he made it at ChampCamp, and went on to corroborate your neighbor’s story, raving about his newfound passion for boogie boarding and affinity for afternoon dance-offs. And after all of this, you even saw the giant green ChampVan driving through Downtown Manhattan.

Now it’s Springtime and everyone is planning out their kids’ summers. Naturally, Champ Camp pops right into your frontal lobe. Other parents are constantly asking about your Summer plans, as they’re trying to arrange for a big group of classmates to get the ChampCamp experience together. But, even with all the perceived positivity surrounding us, you’re not quite sold-- and you shouldn’t be.

Once and for all, you decide to get to the bottom of this whole ChampCamp saga. With a detailed interrogation list in hand, you give us a buzz, and we chat for the better part of an hour. To your relief and surprise, we substantiate everything you’ve heard and seen over the past several months-- our high fives & good vibes mentality all but radiates through your iPhone. Suspiciously satisfied, you throw out one last zinger that will either make or break all that’s been built up to that moment. “Can I come watch what you all do down there?” you ask. “Why of course you can!” we reply. Nailed it!

We fully acknowledge the great degree of skepticism surrounding the idea that it’s even possible for your youngster to be completely safe for a week on the beach, all while making memories that add up to this being the best summer of their life, so far. Our ostensibly far-fetched proposition shouldn’t be accepted without a healthy dose of empirical data-- your vetting process should be thorough.

So, by all means, come check us out! Cruise by the week before your child’s session, setup your own undercover camp down the beach to see what we’re up to, or even take it to the ocean and spy on us from a jet ski. Whatever it takes for your confidence in us to rise to the level of the great stuff you’ve heard about us, go do that thing! All that we ask is that you leave ample time to find parking, as the spots on our helicopter mom landing pad are usually taken :).

Clear for takeoff,


Friday, April 14, 2017

Safe & Stoked: 6-to-1 or Bust!

When shopping around for kids’ recreation programs, one of the first questions that parents should, and often do, ask is, “What is your ratio of campers to counselors?” Considering that, in enrolling one’s child in any program outside of the home, a parent is quite literally turning over their most prized possession in the universe to a group of strangers, this is an extremely legitimate inquiry. To compound things, given the seemingly unpredictable environment of a program on the beach, the thought of letting your little one loose to an understaffed organization a mere one hundred feet from the Pacific Ocean is unnerving to say the least.

Lucky for us, we leap far beyond the industry standard in the ratio department, and proudly answer the above question with an emphatic “6-to-1!”

While we’d be lying if we said it’s not gratifying to hear the relief in a concerned parent’s voice when we tell them those numbers, that ratio is also the key to maintaining our success on a daily basis. For our purposes, success is being able to give a “YES” response to the following two self-check queries:

  1. Are our campers safe?
  2. Are our campers stoked?

Objectively, since our first day of camp in 2012, we’ve been in the business of keeping eighty plus kids per day safe on the beach, and here we are in 2017. Much to the help of our vital 6-to-1 ratio, the answer to the first question has been, "Yes" 100% of the time. If it wasn’t we wouldn’t still be here. That’s pretty much the end of that.

The second, more subjective, measure of our success deals with the degree to which our campers are pleased with the general goings-on at ChampCamp at any given point throughout the day. In other words, are we transmitting ample high fives & good fives such that they’re being received, felt, and internalized by every single kid in attendance that day? Admittedly, we’re not wizards, and of course a few campers out of the thousands of who have partied with us over the past five years weren’t fully exhilarated every moment they were with us-- it happens. However, you can bet your hiney that we give a maximal effort to meaningfully connect with each kid, and our glorious 6-to-1 ratio plays a big part in helping us achieve that.

So, next time you’re researching recreation programs for your kiddo, make sure you ask about ratios. And, in the likely chance that you come across a proportion that doesn’t sit well with you, feel free to share our contact info with that organization-- we’d be happy to guide them in the right direction :) .


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

In Defense of Tag

Ticking by at a snail's pace, it’s a daily miracle to many kids that the classroom clock ever strikes “recess time.” With energy abuzz throughout their minds and bodies, most are champing at the bit to hit the playground with unlimited gusto and curiosity. Alas!-- a good ol’ game of tag to get blood flowin’ and let the homework woes drift away! But, not so fast... unfortunately, for some California students, this glorious pastime is no longer an option.

Covered widely by local news outlets, an elementary school in Folsom, California recently banned the wondrous game of tag, along with all other activities where physical contact is a possibility. Citing repeated instances of students playing too rough, the school’s principal decided to do away with a the whole genre of recess games. Having directed youth programs for the past ten summers of my life, I’m the first one in line to empathize with the frustration that’s evoked when a small group of kids acting badly shifts the entire tone of the day for the worse. I’m also quick to grant that, due to the complexity of playground disagreements, coming up with a fix-all solution that keeps everybody happy is quite literally impossible. However, taking away tag to solve the problem of rough play is a broad brushed blunder.

Very little digging is required to unearth the wide-reaching benefits of tag. Physically, the game helps kids develop the sensory-motor skills needed to efficiently move one’s body through space, and begins to build the cardiovascular work capacity required to live a long, healthy life. Mentally, it introduces our little ones to strategy, and provides their brains a necessary break from academic rigor, thereby priming them to continue learning for the rest of the day. Socially, tag gets kids interacting within a group and, when adversity inevitably arises, requires them to navigate their way towards a resolution. When rough tags occur, there’s an opportunity for developing minds to find their voice and figure out why it’s important to speak up against wrongs, and when it’s necessary to do so. Now, while these are all noteworthy benefits of tag, they’re a far cry from the meat and potatoes of the conversation.
Outlawing tag from the playground is an oversimplified, misguided, and shortsighted attempt to patch up dilemmas that call for considerably more forethought and clarity of intention. The issue here is not the fact that tag, or any other activity for that matter, has the potential to lead to horseplay amongst classmates. Rather, the tendency of adults to micromanage how kids play impedes our youngsters’ ability to freely learn how to be humans that eventually go out and independently and effectively maneuver their way through the world.

What will adulthood look like for the child who’s always been protected from conflict on the playground, or for the kid who was never told that his or her actions aren’t in line with how to treat others with respect? You don’t need a crystal ball to see that getting cut off in traffic and experiencing workplace tension are most definitely not going to be cake walks for the former. And, the latter will likely struggle with collaborating on group projects in college and will spend lots of time wondering why people tend to not stick around in their lives all that long.

As opposed to micromanaging play in an attempt to shield our little ones from conflict, we have to do the hard thing. That hard thing is to let our kids be kids, allow them to work through disagreements to the best to their abilities, and step in to guide and teach them when the complexity of the dispute is beyond their years. Instead of taking tag away, comfort kids with hurt feelings when they feel as though they’ve been mistreated, and take the time to educate the instigator on where their actions went awry and how to move forward. While uncomfortable and tedious, these processes are pertinent for growth.

Ironically, when we come across an adult whose behavior we deem as being outside the realm of how a grownup should behave in a given situation, we commonly remark that so-and-so is “acting like a child.” Well, perhaps they’re just making up for lost time, and were never allowed to be a kid when doing so would have been age appropriate.

Aaand in case it’s not yet obvious, we play A LOT of tag at Champ Camp.

Tag you’re it,


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

P: Play!

PLAY! If you spend a little time with us, you’ll quickly find that Champ Camp is passionate about play. Not in the hokey we’re so laid back and fun so sign up now sense, but from the the this stuff is golden, and more of it needs to be shared with your kids ASAP perspective. In fact, the benefits of play are so paramount that, if we weren't passionate about it, I would personally advise you to take your business elsewhere. Play is the bedrock of our organization, and the guiding light for all that we do.

Infusing our kids with many of the big picture ideas that we all hope to acquire on our journey through life, play is the greatest form of informal education. Tinkering with seemingly unlike objects to design new things introduces us to problem solving, out-of-the-box thinking, and the value of patience. Play is restorative, affording our brains the opportunity to recharge from the more structured parts of our lives. Dreaming up a world of robots and castles amidst a pile of Big Blue Blocks in the sand sparks imagination and fires up creativity. Perhaps more importantly, hearing another’s completely different ideas about what they think is possible to create or invent opens the doors to collaboration, empathy, and teamwork. Any way you spin it, play teaches our kids heavy hitting life lessons while simultaneously providing their minds with meaningful engagement.

In a world of constant stimulation, many of us have developed the tendency to look outwards for fulfillment and entertainment, passively waiting for those things to arrive by way of an app, text, or news update. While it might feel exciting for a second, any perceived benefit of this sort is fleeting. Play, on the other hand, encourages contented absorption into whatever is available at a given time and space. Purely, play is full engagement with the moment, without comparison to how things ought to be, or the worry of needing to reach a destination. Perhaps not so coincidentally, those are precisely the things that most of us could use more of in our day-to-day...

Let the games begin!


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

M: Movement!

MOVEMENT. In its early days when Champ Camp was just an idea floating in space, the very general notion was to create a kids’ program that made moving around outside with your buddies a more intriguing option than time on the iPad. While it’s evolved and transformed in unimaginable ways since that initial Aha moment, movement of various types remains at the heart of everything we do.

As a self-proclaimed “activities-based kids’ program,” let’s begin by acknowledging the most obvious elephant in the room; Champ Campers move their bodies A LOT! In its crudest form, our approach to championing physical movement looks something like this: let’s think of as many engaging and innovative activities as possible and encourage our kids to give some of them a try. Then, hopefully, a handful of our activities strike an internal chord and campers choose to play Sharks & Minnows more often than Angry Birds going forward. Since the value of consistently moving one’s body through space cannot be overstated, it follows that discovering a movement practice that brings us joy is one of the most important to-do items that exists-- our lives depend on it!

Like you’ve probably guessed, bodies aren’t the only things moving at Champ Camp. Carefully woven into the fabric of our program are countless opportunities for our campers to move their minds. Given the autonomy available at Champ Camp, our kids are constantly required to consider their own interests and desires, and then make a choice accordingly. Not only does this process give our campers a dose of self-awareness, but considering one’s options and choosing accordingly is also very empowering. Moreover, the creative endeavors that we expose our kids to is a bottomless source of mind movement. Whether we’re playing a gripping game of charades, or building a larger than life fortress with our world famous Big Blue Blocks, Champ Campers can’t help but move their minds and look at the world in new ways.

We believe that the benefits of body and mind movement are necessary keys for getting the ball rolling down the path towards our kids developing into exceptional individuals. But, those benefits don’t fully account for what we’re getting at:

Champ Camp IS a movement.

The culture we’ve created makes it cool to think freely, talk differences out with each other, and let your thoughts be heard. More specifically, Champ Camp’s on a mission to do its part to help develop kind kids with confidence who care about each other and are ready to change the world.


Sunday, February 19, 2017

A: Autonomy!

AUTONOMY. From early September until mid June, a kid’s every single move is predetermined. Wake up. Wear this. Eat breakfast. Sit straight. Play now. No talking. Read that. Play more (hopefully). Line up. Do homework. Eat dinner. Shower up. Bed time.

Obviously, kids need a considerable amount of governance to establish a sense of accountability, develop a routine, and set boundaries, i.e. when it’s time to work and when it’s time to play. But, arguably more vital than those traits is the development of the kid’s voice. Enter, Champ Camp

Our weeks begin by empowering campers with the notion that they literally get to do whatever they want. After throwing options out to them, we sit back and let the kids paint their day. Now, for a camper who’s spent the previous ten months (or perhaps ten years) following a relatively stringent itinerary, what happens when she’s given the keys to her own city? Let us save you the research-- what we see is the enchanting merger of freedom and authenticity, which leads our campers to the realization that they each have a voice that matters.

It’s an odd and often fleeting notion that kids are just soon-to-be adults with less birthdays under their belts. As adults, we’re required to craft our weeks, months, and lives with some sense of foresighted acuity. However, if things are mostly pre-arranged for our kids until they finish high school, and maybe even college, how can we expect them to successfully navigate the ambiguity of life thereafter? Newsflash: we can’t. But, by peppering autonomy into the foundation of our program, we begin to awaken our campers to the existence of their voices, and embolden them to speak up and start to make some decisions for themselves on the regs.